Kobo has just launched an audiobook bookstore that sells audiobooks individually and also provides them on a subscription level basis. Their entire audiobook catalog is powered by Overdrive and this is the first time they have ever been involved in an audiobook subscription scheme.
Kobo Audiobooks will cost $12.99 per month in Canada and comes with a 30-day free trial period. Customers will get one credit a month with their subscription and they can be redeemed for any audiobook title on the platform. You can also purchase Kobo Audiobooks individually and shop with confidence with their Price Match Guarantee. In addition, readers earn Kobo Super Points on their monthly subscription fees or audiobook purchases. The Kobo audiobooks service is available today in the US for ($9.99/mo), the UK (£6.99/mo), Australia ($12.99/mo), and New Zealand ($13.99/mo).
Kobo has updated their app for Android and iOS and have brought over a fully functional audiobook player. You can make purchases and listen to your content on Android, and with iOS you can only listen to titles you have already bought or have used a credit on. You cannot make purchases directly on your iPhone or iPad.
“We have more books than time, always. Audiobooks let our readers fit the books they love into more parts of their day,” says Michael Tamblyn, CEO, Rakuten Kobo Inc. “Audio lets you be in two places at once—exploring the galaxy on the daily commute, solving a crime while doing the laundry, or wherever you want your favourite story to take you.”
Tamblyn continues: “Last year, we built the Kobo Aura ONE eReader with the help of our best customers, and our new offering is no different. What we unequivocally heard was that they wanted the best deal on audiobooks, and we are pleased to offer the lowest subscription price available.”
Over the course of the past three years the highest growing segment of publishing are audiobooks. The global audiobook industry is currently evaluated at $3.5 billion dollars and the United States is currently the largest singular market with $1.8 billion dollars in audio sales in 2016 and this was a 31% increase from 2015. The Audio Publishers of America has stated that every year for the past three years 36,000 audiobooks were issued. When it comes right down to it, the retailers are the ones who benefit from the audiobook revolution. The vast majority of the companies that spoke to Good e-Reader have disclosed that they have seen triple digit growth and expect this trend to continue into 2017.
Michele Cobb, executive director of the Audio Publishers Association, pointed to the “significant” increase in units and dollars that audio has seen in the past few years; the tremendous popularity of podcasts; and referenced association surveys. Surprisingly, frequent listeners – of at least four audiobooks a month – skew 56% male.
I am really happy that Kobo has leveraged their sister company to provide an audiobook solution for their customers. I predicted last year that Kobo would open up an audiobook store and even cited their relationship with Overdrive as the digital content provider. I feel audiobooks was the missing piece to the Kobo ecosystem and this could provide a lucrative stream of revenue for years to come.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.